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Spanish government suspends ‘kissing’ football chief


Spanish government suspends ‘kissing’ football chief

Luis Rubales refused to resign after an unsolicited display of affection to World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso

The Spanish government has temporarily suspended Royal Spanish Football Association (RSFA) President Luis Rubiales, after he refused to voluntarily step down over an apparently non-consensual kiss at the Women’s World Cup final last weekend.

The government’s sports council said on Friday that it would send two complaints against Rubiales to a court of arbitration, allowing the council to suspend the football boss while the case is being reviewed, its president, Victor Francos, said at a press conference.

If the court finds that Rubiales breached Spanish sports law – particularly its sections on “dignity and decorum” and “abuses of authority,” a ban of between two and 15 years could be imposed.

Rubiales is also facing a FIFA disciplinary investigation over his conduct at Sunday’s Women’s World Cup Final in Sydney, Australia. Following Spain’s 1-0 win over England, Rubiales embraced midfielder Jenni Hermoso and planted a kiss on her lips.

Photos and video from the post-match trophy and medal ceremony showed the RSFA chief kissing and hugging multiple players, but the national players’ union pursued him specifically over his interaction with Hermoso, stating that “acts like the ones we witnessed don’t go unpunished.”

Hermoso said on social media that she “didn’t like” the kiss, but later described it in a statement as a “mutual” and “spontaneous gesture.”

The RSFA held its own meeting on the incident in Madrid on Friday, from which Rubiales emerged defiant. Describing the kiss as “a little peck,” he accused “false feminists” of trying to ruin his career. "Is a consensual peck going to take me out of here? I won't resign. I will fight until the end," he declared at a press conference.

Rubiales has changed his tone on the kiss several times already. He initially downplayed the controversy, calling his critics “idiots and stupid people.” However, he released a video statement on Monday calling the kiss “something that I regret.”

Members of Spain’s self-described “feminist government” are among Rubiales’ strongest critics. In a social media post on Friday, acting Gender Equality Minister Irene Montero welcomed the council’s decision to suspend the RSFA chief.

“Spain no longer accepts macho attitudes or allows women to be denigrated,” Montero wrote. “Any attack on equality will find a firm response from [this] feminist government.”

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